Jewish Wedding Ceremony What happens during a Jewish wedding ceremony? Why are these things important?
Think of a wedding you’ve seen on TV, in a film or been to… List as many features of the wedding ceremony as you can. Consider: What the bride wore, who was there, where it was held, what did it look like, what happened in the ceremony….
Witnesses Veil White dress Superstitions Signing the register Rings Weddings Father ‘gives bride away’ Hymns Cake Flowers Bridesmaids Vows What purpose do they serve? What do they symbolise?
Watch the following videos Note: the similarities and differences between the Jewish ceremony and the Christian/non-religious weddings you’ve seen.
The Wedding Day • The wedding day heralds the happiest and holiest day of one’s life. This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the chatan(groom) and kallah(bride), for on this day all their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge into a new and complete soul. • The badeken is the veiling of the kallahby the chatan. The veil symbolises the idea of modesty and teaches that while physical appearance may be a factor in love, the soul and character of a person are more important.
The Chuppah • The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah, a symbol of the home to be built and shared by the couple. • It is open on all sides – welcoming all guests in. • The chatan, and the kallah, are usually escorted to the chuppah by their respective of parents. • Under the chuppah, the kallahcircles the chatanseven times. Just as the world was built in seven days, the kallah is symbolically building the walls of their new life together.
Wine Two cups of wine are used in the wedding ceremony. The first cup accompanies the blessings recited by the rabbi. Wine is a symbol of joy in Jewish tradition.
Giving of the Ring • In Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the chatan gives an object of value to the kallah. This is traditionally done with a ring. The ring should be made of plain gold, without blemishes or ornamentation (e.g. stones) – just as it is hoped that the marriage will be one of simple beauty. • The chatan now takes the wedding ring in his hand, and in clear view of two witnesses, declares to the kallah, “Behold, you are betrothed unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel.” He then places the ring on the forefinger of his bride’s right hand. According to Jewish law, this is the central moment of the wedding ceremony, and the couple is now fully married at this point.
Breaking the Glass A glass is placed on the floor, and the chatanshatters it with his foot. This is an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and identifies the couple with the spiritual destiny of the Jewish people. A Jew, even at this moment of extreme happiness, is aware that he/she must “set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” • Some joke that this is the last time the groom gets to “put his foot down.” • This marks the conclusion of the ceremony. With shouts of “Mazel Tov,” the chatan and kallah are then given an enthusiastic reception from the guests as they leave the chuppah together.
What elements do Jewish wedding ceremonies have in common with Christian or Non-religious weddings?